I have to admit when I was checking out the cover of American Cheerleader at the newsstand, the thought crossed my mind that there could be some easy fodder for an amusing review. With headlines like "7 steps to higher jumps" and "Hello?! Do you know the rules?" can you blame me?
If the headlines aren't enough, there's the photo of the midriff-exposed cover model, whose hairstyle surely must have required at least a full spray can of Aqua Net in order to look that stiff and molded. No wonder the ozone layer is in trouble.
What really caught my attention was the headline "New Year's resolution: Love your body." This has got to be a joke, right? I mean these are cheerleaders. Doesn't being given the right to wear the skimpy little outfit automatically validate that you are a hottie? Note to self: Be glad you're not a teenage girl.
Truth be told, there's very little to criticize inside the cover of AC. The articles and columns are well-reported and well-written, and cover a variety of topics on every aspect of cheering you could imagine -- from what to eat before competition to fundraising for new team uniforms to how plyometrics can help a team master "explosive jumps and tumbling." Even a non-cheerleader could find plenty of interesting stories. I enjoyed reading about how a deaf cheerleader keeps the beat -- as well as learning a sports psychologist's strategies on overcoming blocks to performance.
The clothes in the fashion spread were hideous, but I'm not a teen-age girl. Apparently big, bold, prints and geometrics are making a comeback. Think early '80s and "Tiffany" videos.
There are very detailed pictorials on different stunts readers can try out on their own team. Some of the high-flying routines made me queasy just looking at them on paper. And they do this without helmets? Maybe that's where the layers of hair spray come in?
Seriously, it's pretty evident that being a cheerleader is about more these days than thrusting pom poms in the air and shouting a spirit cry. These gals are hard-working athletes and deserve the same respect as members of the football or basketball team. They shouldn't be worrying about whether their thighs jiggle a little (one of the body flaws addressed in the article mentioned above.)
AC is run by editors and writers who understand the different between a "baser" and a "flyer." Indeed, editor Marisa Walker and her crew tour the country attending cheerleader competitions looking for the winners of AC's "Editor's Choice Awards."
A friend's niece, who is a high school freshman and a cheerleader, said she and her teammates are avid readers of AC. "I actually love it," she said, in an email to me via Facebook. "The magazine gives our team some really good ideas to put in cheers, and keeps us updated on what new stunts and fun stuff is going on! :)"
As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Far be it for me to argue with results.
Published by: Macfadden Performing Arts Media, LLC